Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz
Herald Journal

Feb. 13, 2006

2006 spring light goose hunting begins March 1

From the DNR
In Minnesota and 24 other states, the harvest of snow geese, including blue-phased, and the smaller Ross’ geese will be allowed under a federal conservation order this spring.

Since 2000, when Minnesota began participating in the conservation order, the state harvest of light geese has varied dramatically from a few hundred to 6,000, depending on weather conditions. Hunting this year will be from March 1 to April 30.

“Minnesota is at the extreme eastern edge of the spring migration through the Midwest,” according to Ray Norrgard, Wetland Wildlife Program leader with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). “March weather, particularly snow and ice conditions, can have a tremendous effect on the migration routes of light geese.”

A spring light goose permit is required and may be obtained after Feb. 20 at any of the 1,800 DNR Electronic Licensing System agents statewide.

Spring light goose permits will also be available by calling 1-888-665-4236 or online after March 1 at www.dnr.state.mn.us. No other license, stamp or permit is required to participate. Although permits are free, there is a $3.50 application fee to cover the cost of issuing the permit.

Nontoxic shot requirements, federal baiting regulations and most regulations that apply to fall goose hunting seasons will also apply during the spring light goose conservation action. The use of electronic calls and unplugged shotguns is allowed.

Refuges closed to either duck or goose hunting during fall seasons are also closed during the spring conservation action. Shooting hours will be one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset. No daily or possession limits apply.

The conservation order is part of an international effort to reduce by 50 percent populations of lesser snow geese that breed in Arctic coastal areas and the Hudson Bay area. High populations of the birds cause habitat damage on the breeding grounds.

A summary of regulations will be available from license vendors, DNR wildlife offices, or by calling the DNR Information Center at (651) 296-6157 or toll free 1-888-MINNDNR (646-6367).

Corn giveaway

The Wright County Chapter of Pheasants Forever will have a corn giveaway for pheasants and wildlife Saturday, Feb. 18, from 8 to 11 a.m. at Lampi’s Auction located at Hwy. 55 and Wright Cty. 6.

Please bring your own containers. Quantities may be limited due to demand.

For additional information please call (320) 274-CORN (2676).

If you would like to volunteer to assist with this event or any other events please contact Bruce Bartl at (763) 682-0653.

Fishing regulations clarifications
From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources issued the following clarifications for the 2006 Fishing Regulations handbook:

Using whole or parts of game fish, goldfish or carp for bait is unlawful in Minnesota.

Goldfish are incorrectly included in the definition of minnows on page 4.

One walleye over 20 inches is allowed in a daily limit. More than one walleye over 20 inches is allowed in possession if the fish are caught on subsequent days. The information on page 5 is incorrect.

DNR questions of the week
From the DNR

Q: Last winter, hundreds of great gray owls moved into northern Minnesota. Have any returned this year and how do we know if, and when, an event like that will happen again?

A: Last winter was a truly remarkable, and unprecedented, year for great gray owls in Minnesota.

It has been estimated that more than 5,000 great grays were observed, a number greater than 10 times what had ever been recorded in a previous year.

Two other northern owl species, the northern hawk owl and the boreal owl, were also observed in record numbers.

So far this year, very few great gray owls have been seen, and those that are reported are in areas where they occur most every year, such as the Sax-Zim Bog northwest of Duluth.

There is no way to know when another large winter invasion of great gray owls will occur, as their movement depends largely on food availability.

Although the number of great grays in the state has not reached last winter’s totals, another northern owl species that visits Minnesota in the winter, the snowy owl, has been observed in greater numbers.

Outdoor notes

• In the near future trail systems in our area could be much different and much more extensive then they are today.

At the current time groups of concerned citizens are making an effort to pave the Luce Line trail, of course others don’t want to see the trail paved.

A few miles to the south, citizens and officials in Hennepin and Carver Counties are lobbying to get the Dakota rail line that runs through, Mayer, New Germany, Lester Prairie, and Silver Lake turned into a state trail system.

The north fork of the Crow River is already a designated canoe route, and efforts are now being made to turn sections of the south fork of the Crow River into a designated canoe route with more access or entry and exit points.

Imagine the recreational opportunities of a completely connected system. Trails, paved or not, that would link the entire area, loops that would connect a new Dakota Line trail to the Luce Line trail, expanded access opportunities on both forks of the Crow River. The impact to our small town economies could be tremendous.

Even if ATV use was allowed the impact to our outdoor and natural environment could be controlled and easily regulated allowing more access to the outdoors with limited impact and, in fact, probably a significant opportunity to raise public awareness and all important dollars for conservation efforts.

If your interested and not involved, now is the time to get involved.

• Many people in the area are well aware of the wetland area that sits right on the Carver – McLeod county line between Lester Prairie and New Germany.

As you travel on Hwy 7 you can look to the south or north and see it.
Crane Creek runs through it, and at it this time efforts are being made to dramatically enhance the area’s wildlife habitat.

Look for more information on this project in upcoming weeks.

• Every ice fishing season there are certain lakes that produce good fishing and many other that don’t.

A couple of the hottest lakes this year include Dog and Eagle.
Early in the season Eagle provided great fishing for sunfish and crappie.

Just a few weeks ago Dog turned on, and the fishing for pan fish was super.

• Ice conditions on our area lake have improved over the past few weeks.

Reports indicate 12 to 14 inches of ice on most area lakes.

However, especially this year, remember that no ice is ever completely safe.

• Last week I saw well over 100 pheasants during a mid-afternoon drive from Dassel to Cologne.

At dusk one evening I also had the opportunity to watch a herd of 24 deer near the south fork of the Crow River.

• The days are getting longer. Today, the sun will rise at 7:18 a.m. and set at 5:38 p.m.

On Feb. 28 the sun will rise at 6:53 a.m. and set at 5:59 p.m.

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